“Sustainability: What’s Next?” was the theme of the first Academic Essay Competition organised by Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) in collaboration with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). The competition, which ran from December 2014 until March 2015, was opened to all undergraduate and postgraduate students enrolled at the university.
As the essay competition served as a platform for the students to express their ideas, it also brought the students much closer to the industry and kept them updated with the current debates and issues. As an appreciation to the winning authors and to further encourage other students, the Institute of Agricultural and Food Policy Studies (IKDPM) and RSPO jointly organised the UPM-RSPO Academic Essay Competition Prize-Giving Ceremony on September 3rd, 2015 at the University.
The event saw the presence of Darrel Webber, Secretary General of RSPO, Dr Sanath Kumaran, Head of Impacts of RSPO and IKDPM Director, Associate Professor Dr Shaufique Fahmi Ahmad Sidique. It was a well attended event comprising a mix crowd of students, professors, lecturers, researchers, local and international students from various faculties.
Ms Lee Yee Ling, a PhD Candidate with the Faculty of Agriculture, was the grand winner of the competition. She was given a lifetime opportunity to pitch her winning ideas before the audience. Ms Lee’s presentation allowed the audience to learn about the challenges and opportunities in redefining sustainability in the palm oil industry.
The event concluded with a forum between the RSPO and the students. This turned out to be a tremendous success as the RSPO was engaged into a light debate and educational session. The forum provided a platform for the student and members of the university to express their concerns and ideas on the ongoing issues in the palm oil industry and the role of RSPO in addressing them.